It was interesting to read the front-page article about the endangered native birds at Te Arai and Reg Whale’s appeal for the public to give the birds more space (MM October 18). I have been disturbed at the increase in dogs along Snells Beach that are allowed by their owners to run free at the northern end of the beach where dotterels have been laying their eggs. An area was marked out to warn people that there were birds nesting on the beach and for beach goers to stay away so that eggs would not be trampled on or left by anxious birds and allowed to get cold. I spoke to one group who assured me they would not let their dogs go near the nests, and I took them at their word. The following day I saw them again with their dogs running free along the same stretch of beach. They knew they were guilty when they saw me and quickly scuttled off but the damage was done. I could not see any dotterel caring for a nest that had been scraped out among the driftwood, behind the orange taped area. It is known that coastal development and beach activities are having a growing impact on these tiny birds. The Department of Conservation has estimated that there are only about 1700 dotterel left, making them more at risk than some species of kiwi. The beach is a great place to play and exercise dogs, but it is important that we consider other beach “visitors” by acting responsibly around nesting sites. It’s not much to ask during the relatively short dotterel breeding season.
Dianne Thompson, Snells Beach